Today is the first day of Santa Clara Valley Medical Center existing as a multi-hospital system. The first day of its kind in 160 years.
At 12:01am today, the County of Santa Clara began operating O’Connor and St. Louise hospitals, as well as the DePaul Health Center in Morgan Hill. This massively expands the scope and scale of health care delivery by the public safety net system our Foundation supports. 1025 licensed beds. Over 170,000 emergency department visits. 7,700 total staff.
Our question: What does this mean for the future of the VMC Foundation? The quick answer is: “We don’t know just yet”. That’s because each foundation at O’Connor and St. Louise were not part of the county’s acquisition, and are therefore tied up in the bankruptcy proceedings. Each foundation has a board, but each board has little power at this point. Each hospital has a gift shop, but neither are currently operating. What will be left after the bankruptcy process? How will we integrate and begin supporting such a larger system? Again, we just don’t know yet.
So we felt it was important to focus first on what we DO know. That’s why, below, we have drafted a Statement of Principles that we feel should guide our efforts on this matter—and on most other matters, frankly.
Please read and if you wish, drop me line. This is such an important time period, such an opportunity. We thank you for your continued service to the VMC Foundation.
Yours In Community Service,
Chris Worrall, Board Chair
Chris Wilder, CEO
STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES
The joining of O’Connor Hospital, St. Louise Regional Hospital, the DePaul Health Center, and Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Hospital & Clinics under a single umbrella represents a historic moment for our local healthcare delivery system.
For decades, these institutions have served this valley with a deeply held conviction that healthcare is a human right, and that language, class, race and income should never be determinants of good health. Dedicated staff, volunteers and community leaders have worked tirelessly to build these hospitals into vital community assets. Each has made a profound impact on the lives of thousands of Santa Clara County residents.
Action by the County of Santa Clara ensures that these vital invitations will continue serving this community for decades. Each will still maintain their unique identities, but how we leverage our collective strength to forge a new, single foundation that advocates on behalf of the entire safety net will be where the greatest difference is made.
The role of philanthropy in supporting these efforts is potentially massive. No other health system will do more to provide care to vulnerable populations in Santa Clara County. The need for community support will be tremendous, and a new foundation structure must be in place to meet that need. How that foundation structure evolves to incorporate all three hospitals and ultimately the broader community is the most pressing job facing us today.
The Valley Medical Center Foundation is an independent, 501c3 charity organization founded in 1988 to serve as the fundraising arm for Santa Clara County’s public, safety-net healthcare system. Since that time, it has raised over $90 million in philanthropy, and $2.5 billion in public support for vital health programs and services. The VMC Foundation is the only nonprofit organization in California to be accredited under the Standards for Excellence: Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector. Our vision is that one day, with philanthropic support from community, all people in Santa Clara County will have access to high-quality health services.
As we enter conversations with partner foundations on a new, unified structure, we are focused on these core principles to guide our work:
- Health care is a right: as a community, we should work collectively to reduce and eliminate all barriers to care
- Ethics: we must follow the highest ethical standards in all aspects of our work, from internal policies and procedures to how we treat and listen to each other
- Honoring the history: each hospital and affiliated foundation brings a unique history and culture that must guide our future actions. We will work to preserve the identity of each.
- Honoring donor intent: funds donated for a specific purpose must be preserved for that purpose, such that a merger does not cause a diversion of funds for unintended uses
- One team: through a collaborative process, we must develop a unified governing and administrative structure so all three hospitals can be served by a single Foundation aligned with County of Santa Clara policies and procedures
If done correctly, we can become the preeminent health care charity in Silicon Valley in terms of scope and impact. It’s a challenge we embrace fully, and we look forward to sharing the journey with new partners and friends.